Tuesday, March 05, 2024

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Democrats Celebrate Steinberg Victory

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s polls hadn’t even closed. Still, at 7:45 p.m. the Democrats gathered at the Little Barn on Post Road East were bullish about state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg being elected to a fifth term, besting Republican challenger Greg Kraut.

WestportNow.com Image
Jonathan Steinberg watches the returns come in on television. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“I’m here to support Jonathan,” said former state Rep. Joe Mioli, Steinberg’s predecessor. “You’ve got to be bullish for the Democratic Party.”

“This is much more exciting than last time, and I’m very optimistic,” said Mark Marcus, a longtime Democrat and former selectman.

Their optimism was on target. Unofficial results posted on a television screen above the bar showed incumbent Steinberg defeating Kraut by 7,778 to 4,393, or 61 to 39 percent for the 136th Assembly District.

“Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan,” the party faithful cheered in unison in the restaurant where the crowd had swelled to the likes of a packed subway car.

“My number one emotion now is relief,” said Steinberg. “I think we all recognized that this would be a challenging campaign.”

Not only was it a challenge because Kraut, a member of the Representative Town meeting, had launched an aggressive campaign. The big challenge for the Steinberg was the state’s fiscal malaise.

“We showed them that I am already part of the solution in Hartford,” Steinberg said.

Lisa Newman, his campaign manager, credited Steinberg for running “a campaign with honesty and integrity.”

“People voted our Westport values,” she said.

Melissa Kane, selectwoman who had nominated Steinberg to run for reelection, commented on the large crowd that even spilled into the parking lot.

“There’s a huge turnout for a reason,” she said. “A lot of people love Jonathan, and a lot of people are excited about him winning.”

Westport voters also came through for Will Haskell, a 22-year-old newcomer. Haskell bested Sen. Toni Boucher, a longtime Republican incumbent representing the 26th District, by 7,687 to 4,284 votes or 64 to 36 percent.  For the district, Haskell’s margin was 53 to 47 percent.

“We won Westport,” Haskell said. “It’s a huge honor, and we’re going to celebrate no matter the outcome.”

Haskell’s uphill climb is because the district includes Weston, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, New Canaan, and Bethel. Around 9 p.m. it was reported that he had lost Wilton, Boucher’s hometown, but won in Ridgefield.

But when the trend became clear, Boucher called Haskell to concede. He said she was “very nice.”

In a statement, Boucher said: “I would like to congratulate Will Haskell for running a strong campaign and wish him much success in his new role.”

“I’m very proud of him if he wins or loses,” said Grant Haskell, his father before the Boucher call. “He’s been working for politicians for over a decade, even though he’s young.”

Actor James Naughton, a Weston resident, also showed up at the Little Barn to show his support for Haskell.

“I made a video for Will, and it’s on his website,” said Naughton. “Down the road, Will will do some great things.”

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